This is no ordinary summer. The pandemic has caused more disruption than anyone could have imagined. But it’s still important to remember the following tips as you drive in the city this August.

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day is September 7 this year, and the weekend leading up to it is notorious for a spike in drunk driving and increased traffic, so be extra cautious.

  • Use extra caution on Labor Day weekend and be prepared to use your best defensive driving skills, if you observe some who is driving while intoxicated (DWI).
  • Call 911 to report any DWI drivers traveling you observe. Do not confront DWI drivers, just call the police.
  • Traffic volume increases after Labor Day so be patient and prepare alternate routes to help your passengers arrive safely at their destinations in the timeliest manner.
  • Be patient if you are delayed in Police DWI checkpoints. You could have been the victim of a DWI driver being removed from the road.

Bicycle Accidents

Always be prepared to take defensive and/or evasive actions if you observe bicyclists in the vicinity.

  • Bicyclists are supposed to obey the same traffic laws as motorists, but often they don’t – passing through red lights and stop signs, traveling the wrong way on one-way streets, making sudden turns without properly signaling, passing vehicles on the right unsafely, etc. Remain vigilant.
  • More people are using bicycles as their primary form of transportation, especially in the pandemic and during nicer weather. Always respect bicycle lanes and a bicyclist’s right to the same streets you travel on.
  • Always check your side view mirrors prior to unloading or loading a passenger for bicyclists attempting to pass in a narrow area.
  • Black cars, medallion taxis, and other vehicles for hire may be targeted for fraudulent claims by bicyclists.
  • Always call the police and make a report if you are involved in an incident or accident with a bicyclist. Do not leave the scene or you can be arrested for leaving the scene of an accident, even if you know your vehicle did not make contact with the bicyclist.
  • Always anticipate unsafe actions by a pedicab (pedicabs frequent bus lanes, and often ignore traffic signals).
  • If you are involved in an accident with a bicyclist working as a delivery person, please obtain the name of the bicyclist’s employer.

Intersection Traffic

  • As you approach intersections, slow down and look in all directions, even if you have the green light.
  • Always anticipate jaywalkers.
  • Watch out for cars and bicycles disregarding traffic signals or stop signs.
  • Regardless of who has the right of way, you are expected to take evasive/defensive actions to prevent accidents at all times.
  • Always control and adjust your speed according to road and weather conditions.

Red Light Accidents

  • Use extreme caution on roads that appear to have light traffic. These roads often have red light cameras.
  • Use extreme caution from 8:00pm to 6:00am and on holidays, when DWI drivers are more prevalent.
  • Decreasing your speed when approaching a green or amber traffic signal will allow you to take defensive and evasive actions, should a vehicle approaching from another direction run the red light.
  • Be on the lookout for vehicles approaching intersections at high speeds.
  • Always anticipate for-hire vehicles may pass a red light to pick up a fare.
  • If you are anticipating a turn at an intersection, try to be sure you can complete the turn prior to the traffic signal turning red. Do not make an unsafe turn when pedestrians are crossing. In NYC, pedestrians cross with the same traffic signal as the turning motorists in most instances.
  • Passing a red light at any intersection increases the chances of striking a pedestrian.
Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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